Confit comes from the French word meaning ‘to preserve‘. It is a classic regional dish from Gascony in south-west France. The technique can be applied to various different meats, but duck, goose and pork are the most common. So many tastes and textures can be achieved in the dish, but it will, of course, depend on how long you marinate the meat, how slowly you cook it, how you store it and what actually goes into the marinade. I’m going to give you my version, with various ways of serving it. I cook it in goose fat, which is quite expensive to buy, but the dish will work very well with rendered pork fat or lard. It really is worth making the effort for a good confit. The recipes that follow are just a few ideas of what to eat with confit. If you don’t fancy any of these, confit is wonderful with a good salad.

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Ingredients

  • 4 duck legs
  • 2 teaspoons rock salt
  • 1–1.5 kg (2–3 lb) goose or pork fat to cover
  • 4 tablespoons clear honey

For the Marinade

  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 fresh basil leaves
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 2 shallots or 1 onion, chopped
  • 2.5 cm (1 in) fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Method

Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade. Rub each duck leg with the rock salt. Place the legs in the marinade, cover and leave for at least 3–4 days in the fridge. The longer the legs marinate, the stronger the flavour will become.

Pre-heat the oven to 160–180°C/325–350°F/gas 3–4.

To cook the duck legs, melt the fat in a deep flameproof baking dish or tray. Add the duck legs to the fat and cook in the pre-heated oven for about 2 hours. When cooked slowly the legs take on more flavour. Check them during cooking: if you try to separate the leg from the thigh and it starts to give easily, then they are ready. Leave to cool in the fat.

The legs can be eaten immediately after cooking. Or at this stage, they can be transferred to a suitable container, covered with the cooking fat and chilled. They will keep for weeks, even months, and the flavour will be developing all the time. When you are ready to serve them, simply remove them from the fat and cook in the low oven for about 20 minutes. I always like to finish my confit with a tablespoon of honey on each leg and then crisp it under the grill.

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